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Ecuador is weighing the risk that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could face the death penalty in the United States in reaching a decision on whether to grant him asylum, its foreign minister said on Wednesday.
“We are now studying Assange's charge that he risks being tried for political reasons and could be sentenced to death,” Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said on his Twitter account.
“Ecuador declares that it will protect the human right to life and to freedom of expression,” Patino said, adding that Assange's request for political asylum “requires profound analysis.”
Assange, 40, turned up in Ecuador's embassy in London on Tuesday, requesting asylum after Britain's top court denied a last ditch appeal to avoid extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes.
Assange maintains that the allegations are politically motivated and that Sweden will deport him to the United States to be put on trial for WikiLeaks' disclosure of a huge trove of US classified documents. - Sapa-AFP